Peking man and scripts in stone
Beijing Travel Blog› entry 23 of 24 › view all entries
I was still trying to avoid the crowds, but also see something interesting. So I went to Zhoukoudian today.
This was the place made famous by the discovery of the Peking Man starting in the 1920's. The town Zhoukoudian was about 1.5 hours drive (about 50km) from Beijing in the southwestern direction. I figured I won't see a big crowd here, and I was right. There were only 2 tour buses in the parking lot when we arrived. They site is now a world heritage site, with a museum showing artifacts but you can also visit the actual sites of the discovery, which were caves near the museum. They had exhibits of the archelogical tools used, replicas of the Peking Man teeth, real fossil skeltons of tiger, bear and hyenas and many smaller mammals and birds, and even fish.
Next we went to the YunJuSi temple (Yun means cloud, ju means live, so this is the temple where clouds live, nice and poetic, right?) about 20 minutes further southwest. This is one of the 4 famous and ancient temples around Beijing. Famous for its carved stone tablets of buddhism scriptures. The nearby Shiginshan is named after the stone scriptures (Shi means stone, gin means scripts, shan means mountain).
Back in the temple, although originally built more than 1500 years ago, it had been expanded over history, but during the 2nd world war, it had been bombed by the Japanese, and most of the buildings were rebuilt since. The front gate arches were original. Luckily for the statues of buddhas inside, these were bronze, and were under renovation elsewhere when the temple was bombed, so they survived and are back in the temple now. The temple also has scriptures on paper as well as wood carvings (for printings). You could print a two page scripture from one of the wood carvings and take as souvenirs (for 20RMB each if you print it yourself, or 10RMB if they do it for you).
On both sides of the temple ground were two towers, one from the Tang dynasty still stands, but the other one was destroyed when bombed by the Japanese.
After visiting the temple (they had free guides who would walk you around, so that's well worth the 40RMB ticket), I decided to visit the cave on Shiginshan, it was a 30 minute hike up a hill about 500m high. If you are fit, it would take less time. Anyway, as I hiked up, I saw these workers carrying bags of stuff up the path, so I asked what they were carrying, it turned out they were carrying sand and cement up the hill. And each was carrying about 100lb. They were paid only 10 cents RMB per lb, so that means 10RMB per trip, and they could make maybe 6-7 trips a day. It's a tough job.
The cave was locked, and they had a guid to take you to it from mid mountain, and opened the door for you to go in. This place was not well visited, so I figure maybe they get 10-20 visitors per day. But it was worth the hike and the view was good.